Researchers Find Reason For Infertility In Cancer Patients And Discover Remedy

By Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels June 03, 2013 Comments

Researchers at the Center for Fertility Preservation of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel have recently discovered the reason behind high rates of infertility in female cancer patients. PhD student Lital Kalich-Philosoph and Dr. Hadassa Roness have discovered the chemical agent in cancer treatment responsible for these devastating side-effects and have already begun testing a possible treatment.

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Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for cancer currently available and is used to treat a wide spectrum of cancers. But harmful side-effects, like causing infertility, continue to darken these treatments. One of the chemical agents in chemotherapy, known as alkylating agents, were identified by researchers as responsible for ovarian toxicity and the causes of future infertility in young female chemotherapy patients.

Keeping women fertile without damaging treatment

The known risk of infertility had led a number of young women to freeze their eggs or ovarian tissue for implantation following treatment, yet these methods often are ineffective and expensive.

After Kalich-Philosoph and Dr. Roness identified the alkylating agent cyclophosphamide (Cy) as responsible for killing off current ovarian follicles and poisoning future follicles, the researchers were able to find a solution for the depletion of the ovarian reserves.

The experimental drug AS101 was applied by the researchers and it was found to prevent the tainting of dormant ovarian follicles by the alkylating agent in chemotherapy treatment. The experiment, conducted on mice, found that the drug was able to block the toxification of dormant follicles better than chemotherapy treatment alone. The specimens treated with AS101 were able to retain their fertility following the chemotherapy, while those that were not treated had lower pregnancy rates.

Professor Benjamin Sredni, head of the Cancer, AIDS and Immunology Research Institute at Bar Ilan University commented on the cancer breakthrough: “AS101 was developed at Bar Ilan University. It is currently in advanced clinical trials for use in cancer patients, and previous studies have shown that it does not affect the efficacy of the chemotherapy treatment, and may even increase the effectiveness of the treatment.”

Photo by Kit4na

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